IOWA CITY, Ia. — The College Football Playoff committee gave Iowa all the respect required Sunday to get the AP sixth-ranked Hawkeyes to their first Rose Bowl in 25 years.
A trip to Pasadena, Calif., and a date with No. 5 Stanford was revealed during an ESPN broadcast that outlined the New Year’s Six bowl games. And it was a welcomed consolation prize less than 24 hours after the Hawkeyes were outlasted by Michigan State, 16-13, in the Big Ten Conference title game in Indianapolis.
The Rose Bowl will be played Jan. 1 at 4 p.m. and be televised by ESPN — the only bowl game during that time slot, a prestigious reward for Iowa’s 12-1 season.
The Big Ten West-champion Hawkeyes (No. 5 by the CFP committee) finished two spots ahead of 11-1 and defending national champion Ohio State in the final rankings, and that was all the buffer that was needed for Iowa to get the Rose Bowl nod.
The Rose Bowl had repeatedly said it would likely take the next-highest-ranked CFP team should the Big Ten champion (Michigan State) go to the College Football Playoff. And Sunday, it was true to its word, matching the Hawkeyes up with the No. 6 CFP Cardinal, who finished 11-2 after the Pacific-12 Championship victory over USC.
Iowa's hard-fought loss to Michigan State, in which the Spartans scored their only touchdown with 27 seconds left, impressed the 12-person committee.
"We really thought Iowa proved more in that loss than throughout the rest of their schedule." committee chairman Jeff Long said.
Iowa’s last trip to Pasadena was the 1991 Rose Bowl, a 46-34 loss to Washington — leaving Hayden Fry with an 0-3 Rose record as coach. This will mark Kirk Ferentz’s ninth January bowl game in 17 seasons as Iowa’s head coach, but his first Rose Bowl.
The last time Iowa won in Pasadena was in the 1959 game, 38-12 over California.
The Register's Chad Leistikow and Rick Brown recap Iowa's 16-13 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship. David Scrivner/Iowa City Press-Citizen
The final College Football Playoff ranking:
3. Michigan State
7. Ohio State
8. Notre Dame
9. Florida State
10. North Carolina
12. Ole Miss
16. Oklahoma State